William Vuong was born in central Vietnam, but moved to Saigon in 1953. In 1962, he joined the South Vietnamese Special Forces, serving as an interpreter and office manager. After the Fall of Saigon, Vuong was told to report to a communist reeducation camp. He was imprisoned there for over ten years. After being released, Vuong taught English at a university in Saigon and worked hard to secure safe passage for his family to the United States. Vuong eventually came to Portland in September of 1993 through the Humanitarian Operation. He settled in Southeast where he opened a janitorial company, went back to school, and also worked for Lutheran Family Services. Vuong and his wife Chrstina Luu opened their first restaurant, Ha & VL in 2006. Currently, they still live in Southeast, near their six sons and numerous grandchildren. Vuong and Luu now operate their second restaurant, Rose VL Deli. In total they have been award three separate James Beard Foundation awards.

This interview begins with William Vuong outlining his early life, education, and military career. He then describes what was like in communist “reeducation” camps. Next, Vuong explains what he did after being released and details the prolonged process of how his family immigrated to the United States. From there, Vuong speaks about his life in Portland, highlighting the different work he has done and how important being an educator to youth is. Vuong concludes the interview by speaking a bit about the Vietnamese community in Portland.